Judge Recommends Denying Wealth TV Complaint: Source

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A Federal Communications Commission administrative judge has recommended denying the program-carriage complaint of Wealth TV, according to a source close to the case.

The FCC's Enforcement Bureau had recommended that outcome, though the full FCC must still vote on the judge's recommendation.

The bureau had advised the judge in July that WealthTV had not made its case that cable operators Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Bright House had discriminated against it and said the commission should not mandate its carriage on those operators' systems.

WealthTV parent Herring Broadcasting claimed the operators discriminated against it by not distributing the network, while carrying a similar channel, the now defunct Mojo service, in which the distributors had a financial interest. The MSOs said the issue was the cost of the channel versus its value, and that it was business, not discrimination, that kept WealthTV off their lineups.

The FCC's Media Bureau last fall, under then-chairman Kevin Martin, had advised the commissioners that it thought the operators had discriminated against WealthTV in favor of their own, owned network, but a majority of the commissioners were not ready to conclude that without fact-finding and testimony before an administrative law judge, which came at a hearing in April.

There ensued a tug-of-war over jurisdiction, with the case eventually winding up before Judge Richard Sippel.

Herring Broadcasting told Multichannel News back in July that it still wants a chance to make its case before the full commission.

The FCC clarified last month that the public would get a chance to comment on Sippel's decision. There will be a 30-day comment period after the public release of the decision, then an additional 10 days for reply comments.

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